FLOSSMOOR | It's tough to say who most enjoyed beating Homewood-Flossmoor on Saturday, winning pitcher Alex Schell or his T.F. South coach, Matt Tiffy.
"I've never beaten them, my entire high school career," Schell said after finally breaking through with a 6-3 decision in Flossmoor. "I was running on pure adrenaline. I've always hated them … I know a lot of guys on that team, and they're always giving me a hard time."
For once, Schell gave the Vikings a hard time. He pitched six innings, allowing two runs (1 earned) on three hits and four walks while striking out five.
That performance helped Tiffy to his first varsity coaching win over H-F, in his eighth season of trying.
"Three years at Rich Central, and my fifth year here," he said. "Coach Sippel has a great program. He puts out a good team every year."
This year's squad may yet get there, though it is younger than last season's senior-dominated, 22-12 version.
The Vikings (1-1) started sophomore Jeremy Orbik, who lasted a fitful two-plus innings, walking six and allowing three runs (1 earned).
"I think he was nervous," Sippel said. "It was his first varsity start. He was trying to do too much. And we definitely didn't help him."
The Vikings made an error behind Orbik in each of the first three innings. He was relieved by another sophomore, James Sheehan.
"They're a big part of our future," Sippel said. "We haven't brought sophomore pitchers to the varsity very often."
Sippel, in fact, recalled only three previous instances: John Ely, who reached the majors with the Dodgers and is currently in the Houston organization; Aaron Hauge, currently pitching at Southern Illinois University; and Dan Lietz, now at Heartland Community College.
"Those are pretty elite guys," Sippel said.
Saturday, Schell pitched like an elite hurler, at least in the early going. He faced the minimum through the first three innings, while the Rebels (3-2) jumped out to a 3-0 lead.
Adam Jamka and Elijah Shepard scored on consecutive wild pitches in the second, and Schell came home on a bases-loaded walk to Steve Stubitsch in the third.
South's other runs came in the fifth. Peyton Padjen (2-for-3) drove in Shepard with a base hit to left, then he and Stubitsch scored on Brian Seymour's single to center.
H-F touched Schell for a run in the fourth, when Quincy Jones singled and came home on Michael Kendrick's double off the fence in center, added an unearned run in the fifth, and got an RBI single from Jesse Forestell in the seventh.